The Skinny's Desert Island Crisps

Forget Desert Island Discs... this is the real Sophie's Choice. The Skinny team break down their favourite potato snacks in forensic detail; prepare for a pan-European and slightly sweary voyage into the crisp aisle

Feature by The Skinny | 24 Aug 2017

After much deliberation, here are the crisps that we've chosen to accompany us on a desert island – because obvs the best way to conquer dehydration and malnutrition is with lots of salty, deep-fried potato. Mmmmm.

Considering that salt and deep frying are usually a given, we've decided that the one stipulation is that the crisp in question must be potato-based (spoiler alert: this rule may about to be lost overboard). Otherwise, any brand, shape or flavour is permitted.

Think our choices suck? Let us know your Desert Island Crisps in the comments below. 

Co-op – Sea Salt and Chardonnay Vinegar

Over the years I've accumulated many staples: after a couple of pints I'll always turn to Real's Ham and English Mustard crisps; if hungover, it's McCoy's Salt and Vinegar; if I'm on me hols, it's those giant fuck-off 500g bags of plain salted crisps you get only in foreign countries (that you eat so much of that your jaw aches); if in the need of comfort, I go for M&S's Salt and Black Pepper Combo Mix, which will always remind me of my Mum and I eating them in the kitchen with a sherry whilst making dinner.

But the one that'll ALWAYS reign supreme when pushed is Co-op's own Sea Salt and Chardonnay Vinegar. Ignore the bullshitty, flouncy terminology; these guys are the real deal. That's thanks not only to a perfect texture (thick, but not too thick; nubbly enough to keep each mouthful interesting) and the heavy coating of seasoning – which means that unlike some crisps that make bold, but ultimately false, claims of wacky flavours, what you taste is what was promised. So salty, so vinegary. Only £1.69, too, meaning you don't have to wait until they're on offer (looking at you, Sensations and Pringles).

Many people confess they find them too acerbic, but those people are dickheads. I, for one, like to eat so many (i.e. the whole bag) that I give myself a tummy ache from all of the vinegar. That's what it's really about. [Jess Hardiman]

Kettle Chips – Lightly Salted

Controversially, I think that the perfect crisp experience is dependent on the presence of dip, something which could prove challenging on a desert island. In the unlikely circumstance that I was stranded on a remote island with a fridge, with a cow and the knowledge of how to make sour cream (and also, chives), I would pick the stone cold classic lightly salted Kettle chip with sour cream and chive dip. You can't beat it. I've got some on my desk right now. Come try it before you talk to me about your other potato products. [Rosamund West]

Walkers – Prawn Cocktail

Having examined my own personal snack favourites, almost all of them are corn-based (Nik-Naks, Transform-a-Snack, Wotsits, the humble tortilla chip). But within the terms of the game, I'd have to plump for nostalgia and go for Walkers Prawn Cocktail. It's maybe an obvious choice, but as an easily bored child with an enormous sweet tooth (one that's continued into adulthood), the sugary tang of those little pink packets proved the most exciting option in the Walkers multipack repertoire... even though it's still not entirely clear what that flavour is actually based on (prawns in a marie rose sauce being a far cry from whatever that finger-staining seasoning tastes like).

Whatever it may be, it's a flavour I associate with picnic lunches with my grandparents, probably because once they'd learnt they were my favourite, they started buying multipacks of just Prawn Cocktail: no wrong choices there. [George Sully]

Pringles – Pizzalicous (aka A Conscientious Objection)

I'd like to take this opportunity to protest the criteria by which we define the word 'crisp'. Most English speakers use the word 'crisp' to refer to both maize and potato-based snacks. To erase the rich history of the dusty, melt-in-the-mouth maize snack is linguistically and gastronomically prescriptive. More than that, it is simply unjust. What about those perfectly triangular Doritos, over which you've made many a new pal? What about the Chipsticks? What about Skips? Nik Naks? Transform-A-Snacks? Plus, the dichotomy is simply a matter of tax – snacks considered 'potato crisps' are subject to VAT.

This in mind, I propose Pringles (specifically their Pizzalicious flavour) due to their contentious membership in the potato crisp genre. Remember the Pringles scandal of 2008? I'll remind you. Despite being clearly labelled 'potato crisp' on the packaging, Proctor & Gamble successfully convinced a court that Pringles are not crisps on the basis that they contain only 42% potato starch. That decision was reversed by the courts just one year later. That's what happens when you create arbitrary divides: starch anarchy. [Kate Pasola]

Tayto – Salt and Vinegar

Tayto Salt and Vinegar are the best crisps, for the following reasons: 1) They're made in an actual, genuine castle, which you can visit and everything. 2) They're just the right mix of sharp 'ouch you bastard that hurt' vinegar and salty, salty moreishness. 3) The Tayto mascot is a terrifying potato-man with a psychotic grin; he makes regular appearances at the castle. 4) They're really thin, like shards of plate glass covered in savoury deliciousness. 5) Because they're Northern Irish, and Northern Ireland doesn't exist on the mainland except to deliver mad far-right religious politics every so often, Tayto are surprisingly hard to find anywhere, other than the 'World Food' sections of enormous supermarkets.

I could go on, but yeah, they're the best, @ me if you disagree. Plus, I am the Food and Drink Editor, which means I'm correct. [Peter Simpson]

Lay's – Receta Campesina

Lay's Receta Capesina. Those on the continent will be familiar with this particular flavour. As a young lad living in Barcelona, I survived on these crisps, Negritón ice creams and Damm Limóns. I've lived off of these badlads before, and I can live off them again. [Keith Allan]

McCoy's – Mexican Chilli

My desert island crisp HAS to be McCoy's Mexican Chilli, my life long go-to potato snack, not even the aforementioned Tayto can surpass its deliciousness. As a small child if my dad was heading out to the shops i'd simply shout after him "CHILLI CRISPS!" and he knew the drill. Paired with Lucozade these delicious spicy ridged orange discs were perfect for curing any kind of childhood tummy bug. 

I feel the original ridged texture really makes them a cut above the rest as you can really take your time and slowly enjoy each crisp at your leisure, to make each one last. On occasion you can find a few in the packet so saturated with spicy artificial paprika goodness that it makes you wince, but always in a good way. [Sarah Donley]

Golden Wonder – Prawn Cocktail

As this list’s bullshit potato only rule (see Kate Pasola’s entry) precludes the holy trinity of crisps – Skips (tapioca), Monster Munch (corn) and Twiglets (rye) – I’ll have to plump for Golden Wonder Prawn Cocktail as my favourite tattie-based snack. While I love that jug-eared leftie Gary Lineker as much as the next person, I can’t get on board with the crisp brand who supplement his hefty BBC wages.

To me, the disappearance of the greasy, crumbly delights that are Golden Wonder from our shop shelves in place of the vastly inferior and less vividly named Walkers is as regrettable as grey squirrels pushing out the glorious ginger variety or Johnny Depp replacing Gene Wilder as head of that chocolate factory. Best flavour? Prawn cocktail, obs. [Jamie Dunn]

Ruffles – Jamón

I fucking love crisps, so this is really hard for me. While I agree wholeheartedly with Ms Donley on McCoy's Mexican Chilli, sometimes all you want is ready salted goodness; a tasty disc of cheese and onion powdery goodness, or maybe even salt and vinegar: Walkers, McCoy's and Hula Hoops all satisfy these humble needs. Classics are called so for a reason, amirite?! BUT. WAIT. Sometimes what you really want is a big fuck off bag of Jamón Ruffles.

After seven years of visiting Barcelona for Primavera Sound festival, it's one of the things I most look forward to about my trip. Sad, right? Or is it? They're so greasy, flavoursome and delicious and once I start eating them, I can't stop; an absolute winner of a crisp if you ask me! Oh, you did ask me? Well, there you have it. The champion of crisps is officially the Jamón Ruffle. YES! [Tallah Brash]

Honourable mention: Frazzles – Crispy Bacon

I'm going to go a little against the grain here (is that a pun? If so, pardon) and possibly the rules, and opt for Crispy Bacon Frazzles. Unfortunately, I don't sample these little rectangular delights as often as I would like any more but I will always remember going into my local convenience store on Leith Walk after primary school, reaching far into the cardboard box with the round hole in it and plucking out a maroon coloured packet of goodness. Those were the days. [Sandy Park]

Another honourable mention: Space Raiders – Pickled Onion

I'm also going against the no maize based snacks rule and going super basic: Pickled Onion Space Raiders. When I was growing up they were only 10p; I had no money, you do the math. They are also vegan. [Kyle McPartlin]

Feeling genuinely affronted that no-one spoke up for cheese and onion at any point? Hit us up in the comments with your favourite crisps; show your working.

This article was compiled and devised by Jess Hardiman, the much-loved departing Food and Drink and Listings editor of The Skinny North. She fucking loves crisps.